After Thursday night’s 69-50 loss to New Hampton (N.H.) Prep in the first round of the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational on Thursday, Greenfield coach Rob Salter brought freshman guard Jalen Harris to the interview room.
Harris’ line wasn’t the most impressive – five points, two assists and two rebounds – but his play was vital to the Knights in the second half as they outscored the Huskies 33-31, and even were on the cusp of an amazing comeback.
The coach looked at the only freshman on the roster and smiled, even with the pain of the team’s first blowout loss of the season still fresh.
|Greenfield freshman Jalen Harris looks to drive|
during the Knights' 69-50 loss to New
Hampton (N.H.) Prep on Thursday night at the
HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational in
Raleigh. (Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times)
“Jalen came in and got us going offensively,” Salter said.
Salter was referring to the second half when Harris had an old-fashioned three-point play and both of his assists as the Knights cut as much as a 24-point lead down to 14 in the fourth quarter.
He also had a steal and helped the Greenfield defense put on a full-court press that had the Huskies’ flustered for a couple of tense minutes. Eventually, New Hampton coach Pete Hutchins called a timeout to give his team some words of wisdom.
“To their credit,” Hutchins said. “In the second half, they changed some things up and made us work.”
If not for a couple of missed layups soon after the timeout, the comeback may have continued.
Harris also stopped a brutal opening to the game that saw Greenfield trail 15-2 with a layup with 1:06 left in the first quarter.
The freshman said it was a change in mindset that helped the Knights get back and compete in the second half.
“We just started playing defense,” he said. “We didn’t do it well (in the first half).”
Big men neutralized
Coming in to Thursday night’s game, all eyes were on the inside game of the highly-regarded New Hampton squad.
The Huskies’ main man was 6-foot-9 power forward Noah Vonleh, who has signed to play at Indiana. He chose the Hoosiers over North Carolina and Ohio State, and came in averaging a double-double.
He looked dominant at times, including a couple of nice moves to get easy dunks, but was not the overwhelming presence many may have expected, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
But the other inside players – 6-foot-10 sophomore Jeremy Miller, 6-8 junior Tory Miller, and 6-7 junior Mike Auger – were mostly neutralized.
Jeremy Miller had six points and five rebounds, while Tory Miller fouled out in the fourth quarter with six points and only two boards. Auger had the best night with seven points and seven boards.
“They did a great job with our bigs,” Hutchins said. “And our post defense wasn’t as good as it should be. … Their smaller lineup was difficult for our kids to adjust to.”
Only problem was the guard play of Travis Jorgenson and Mike LeBlanc more than made up for it.
Senior point guard Jorgenson had 10 points, seven assists and five steals; while shooting guard LeBlanc made 4 of 7 from beyond the 3-point line.
Knights’ guard Xavier Mills admitted his team was taken aback a little by the “atmosphere” in the large Holliday Gym on the campus of Broughton High School.
“I don’t want to blame anything on it,” he said afterwards, “but I think we played much better once we got used to it. A lot of people on our team hadn’t played in an atmosphere like this before.”
The shooting woes of the Knights showed this may have been true.
Greenfield made just 17 of 49 shots from the field, a dismal 34.7 percent. It was worse in the first half, as the Knights hit only 1 of 10 from 3-point range and only 7 of 27 (25.9 percent) total.
Rematch in losers’ bracket
The nightcap on Thursday night between Cuthbertson and Hampton (Va.) set up a rematch.
The Crabbers pulled out a 61-59 win in overtime, sending the Cavaliers into the losers’ bracket of the Summit Hospitality Bracket where they will meet up with Kinston, a 57-50 loser to DeSoto (Texas), which was ranked as high as No. 9 nationally.
The game between the Vikings and Cavaliers will be a rematch of last year’s 2-A N.C. High School Athletic Association state championship, won by Kinston.
ACC recruits shine
Atlantic Coast Conference fans got a small glimpse of the future during Thursday’s play.
The Crabbers’ Anthony “Cat” Barber, an N.C. State recruit, scored 26 points – including six in overtime – in the 61-59 OT win.
Duke recruit Matt Jones had 17 points for DeSoto (Texas) in its win over Kinston.
The two will meet Friday night at 7:20 p.m.